UP-Central Region BLET members urged to vote YES on Tentative National Agreement
By Ronnie E. Rhodes
Union Pacific-Central Region General Committee of Adjustment
(BLET Editor’s Note: The following message from BLET General Chairman Ronnie E. Rhodes (UP-Central Region GCA) has been excerpted from the September/October 2017 issue of the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News.)
Brothers and Sisters of the BLET Central Region:
On October 6, I attended a meeting in Cleveland where the current Tentative National Agreement was reviewed by all the BLET General Chairmen. I supported the National President’s decision to put this agreement before the membership for a ratification vote. I want you to be informed when your ballots arrive so I will lay out the facts in an attempt to help you make an informed decision.
If we vote against the proposed agreement, please understand that all previous offers, including, but not limited to, the tentative agreement are off the negotiating table. We will be assigned a Presidential Emergency Board by the President of the United States. The parties will start with their original positions.
I have a link to PEB 219 so you can see how the Carriers told the board that their employees are overpaid and how they needed changes in work rules to compete with the trucking industry. Please take the time to read this PEB so you can read for yourself how the Carriers tried to justify freezing our wages and gaining work rule concessions:
You will also find where “cost sharing” became part of your healthcare package among other changes.
Changes could also be made that standardize some our local agreements that bring all Engineers under the same National Agreement.
Currently, our General Committee has one of the best vacation allocation agreements in the rail industry.
We are one of two General Committees that do not have to qualify for Personal Leave Days (just be marked up and in OK status).
We are the only General Committee that can bank 200 Personal Leave Days for retirement or emergencies.
Our General Committee has also obtained lodging for engineers forced over 100 miles from their home terminal.
Our General Committee has in place arbitration awards backed by a court decision that prohibit the Union Pacific from using Article IX to modify the runs that were agreed to in the Hub negotiations.
We have fought hard for these agreements, awards and court decisions.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out in the field right now.
Below is the definition of a PEB. I made the last paragraph bold for a reason.
I do not want the Congress to write our agreement; they know nothing about railroading.
WHAT IS A PEB?
Presidential Emergency Board
If either labor or management decline voluntary arbitration, or if in the opinion of the NMB the continuance of the controversy threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce in any section of the nation, the NMB is required to notify the President of the United States, who may, at his discretion, create a fact-finding Presidential Emergency Board.
The parties must maintain the status quo (no strikes or lockouts) for 30 days. If the president chooses not to appoint an emergency board, strikes or lockouts may occur after the 30-day cooling-off period.
Emergency boards are comprised of neutral members whose job is to make an investigation and submit to the president, within 30 days of its creation, a fact-finding report with non-binding recommendations for procedures or terms on which a dispute might be settled. During this period, the parties must maintain the status quo (a second 30-day cooling-off period).
Upon submission of the PEB report, the parties are required to maintain the status quo for an additional, or third 30-day cooling-off period (they may mutually agree to extend the period of status quo). The non-binding recommendations of the PEB are expected to carry the weight of public opinion and induce a voluntary agreement among the parties.
At this point, the RLA has run its course. If no agreement has been reached, either side becomes free to act in its own economic interests — a work stoppage (or strike) by labor, a lockout by management, or unilateral implementation of management proposals (that generally would force a work stoppage).
However, Congress frequently imposes its own settlement. Such congressional action is not part of the RLA. The constitutional authority for Congress to impose its own settlements is found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution’s commerce clause.
Below is a quote from Referee Robert Harris.
Arbitrator Robert O. Harris told the United Transportation Union (UTU) and railroads in 1991, then unable to agree at the bargaining table, “Welcome to the oldest established craps game in Washington. Like the suckers in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ you are risking your futures on the roll of the dice [when you fail to make a voluntary agreement].” This was from a copy of Railway Age.
I hope you find this informative and useful.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
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